You find yourself in an enclosed space.
It is a small room: filled with dust and the relics of past happiness. There are a series of windows in front of you. You keep toggling through them. You are hoping that you will find — or not find — what you’re looking for.
Before they find you.
It’s already a concession that you are in the room, but you tolerate it. The hoops you have to jump through for the small amount of money you earn rivals that of the things that you watch watching you.
Your ears perk up as you wonder if you heard a noise. Your stomach clenches as you think you see something from the corner of your eye. But you are just seeing things, hearing things, letting the darkness and the uncertainty in the shadowy corners of your vision get to you.
But you know better.
Every sane part of you wants to get up out of this sunken seat that smells like sweat and mould and ass. Every last part of you is screaming. And what is left wants to run away. But you need the money, you tell yourself. And there are still debts that need to be repaid.
You flip through the different windows and lens of the computer screen in front of you. Sometimes they leave you a message on your machine. Other times you know you can hear them moving around. You fear hearing the phone ring: even as you dread silencing the ringer more … knowing you’ll get that message either way.
Whether it’s a voicemail, a text, a letter in the mail, or feeling them hover over your shoulder you know you have no privacy. You know it’s only going to get more intrusive: and you can only avoid eye-contact and hide behind your mask — your playing pretend at not having feelings — for so long. Eventually, those doors are going to open. Remember: this is not your home. This space belongs to them.
So you count the six hours you have to stay there. You count the five days your body gets locked up with tension. Just five days and they can’t touch you. In five days you can pretend that they haven’t found you already. You can imagine that they didn’t come into your space, thinking you weak, unmoulded, untried, and try to stuff who you into an exemplar of what they are: crushing everything you were into a shapeless pulp and red mist gone, like dead dreams, by morning.
And all you can hope for are those two days where the texts don’t get you, the voice-mails never reach, the letters wait, and everything else only hovers in your nightmares: where you are not a withered animatronic and silence is not a scream of innocence lost.
This is not a game, kids. It’s real life.